Friday 4 September 2015

Gregorian chant at the Abbey of Sant'Antimo - now part of the past

Many visitors to the Val d'Orcia and the area around Montalcino, and from even further afield in Tuscany, have visited the Abbazia di Sant'Antimo not only for the beautiful architecture, but also to hear the monks chanting. Alas, it seems certain that Gregorian chant at the Abbey of Sant'Antimo ceased at the end of 2015. The French White Friars, who follow the rule of St. Augustine in the Norbertine order and who have been at the Monastery of Sant'Antimo for 36 years, returned to France before the end of the year.

The Abbey of Sant'Antimo near Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy
The Abbey of Sant'Antimo near Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy  

 The monks will move to the Abbaye de Saint Michel de Frigolet near Avignon in France. This French abbey, which dates from 1858, is in a critical state basically because only two monks remain there, both elderly, and the decision was made by the Norbertine Order to draw on their community elsewhere. An additional factor might have been the refusal of the Siennese authorities that watch over historical buildings to let the order rebuild the cloister and the monks' accommodation, meaning that growth in the size of the community at Sant'Antimo was precluded.

Gregorian chant during Mass at the Abbey of Sant'Antimo
Monks during Mass at the Abbey of Sant'Antimo

 The Bishop of Montalcino has indicated that he hopes to find another religious community to replace the departing White Friars but there has been no word on whether he has been successful. It is also highly unlikely that the new community will specialise in Gregorian chant.

What this means is that visitors who wish to enjoy the experience of Gregorian chant at the Abbazia di Sant'Antimo must try to come here within the next couple of months.

More about the Abbey of Sant'Antimo.

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Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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